Many still ignoring stroke symptoms

February 3, 2012 2:17:52 PM PST
Despite warnings that strokes need to be treated immediately, many patients continue to fail to get to the ER fast enough.

Clot-busting medications are crucial in stopping a stroke in its tracks.

A new study finds almost 44 percent of patients didn't get to the hospital until more than 41/2 hours after the time they were known to first show symptoms. According to experts, that's up from 39 percent in 2005.

The study also found many patients choose to get themselves to the hospital instead of calling an ambulance. That boosts the risk that they won't get there in time to be able to take a clot-busting drug.

The message from the report, released at a meeting of the American Stroke Association, is more people need to learn about the warning signs of stroke. They can include numbness, or weakness, confusion or trouble speaking, dizziness, or severe headache with no known cause.